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LEGISLATIVE UPDATE

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LEGISLATIVE UPDATE Powered By Docstoc
					                                         




                                                                                                                   

    LEGISLATIVE UPDATE 
 

                                                                                                  March 13, 2009

                       House of Representatives Community Budget Hearings

The House Finance Committee met in Salem, Claremont and will be meeting in Whitefield to get community
input into the House of Representatives budget for 2009-2011. The first two hearings were well attended and
the impact of budget cuts on communities as well as community-based programs is overwhelming. There were
so many issues surrounding the impact of the budget on Health and Human Services, that another town meeting
in Concord has been scheduled for March 17th at 4:00 p.m. to hear from people regarding budget issues for
public health programs. Breathe New Hampshire testified at the Claremont town meeting and requested that the
excise tax and the taxes on other tobacco products be increased and made part of the budget thereby protecting
New Hampshire’s youth. Thanks to everyone who wrote letters of support. If you still would like to write a
letter in support of legislation to raise the taxes on tobacco products, please contact Marie Mulroy at
mmulroy@breathenh.org. The dates for the hearings are:

     •   March 16th at 6:00 p.m. White Mountain High School Auditorium, 127 Regional Road, Whitefield,
         New Hampshire
     •   March 17th at 4:00 p.m. Legislative Office Building, Room 210-211 Legislative Office Building,
         Concord, New Hampshire
                                        FDA Regulation of Tobacco
The U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee approved The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco
Control Act which would give the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the power to regulate tobacco. This
bill now goes to the House and then to the Senate. Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, Chair of the
Senate's Health Committee, plans to reintroduce a Senate version of the bill in coming weeks. The Family
Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act passed the House last summer, but faced a veto threat from then-
President George W. Bush, and was not voted on in the Senate. While this legislation would not let the FDA
ban tobacco or reduce nicotine content, it does allow the FDA to look into the practices and activities used by
the tobacco industry such as growth, preparation, shipment, and advertisement of tobacco products. Previous
bills regarding FDA regulation of tobacco failed in 2000, 2002, 2004 and 2005 in part because of the debate
about menthol, the most popular flavor of cigarette and the only one not banned under the current measure. The
bill does prohibit candy flavored cigars and cigarettes. Breathe New Hampshire is in favor of this piece of
legislation and will be requesting help from those interested to help with its passage.




     9 Cedarwood Drive, Unit 12 • Bedford, NH 03110 • phone 603.669.2411 • fax 603.645-6220 • www.breathenh.org
 
                                          
                               Floor Hearings Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The March 18th meeting and floor votes have been cancelled to give everyone time to report on all bills that
originated in their committees. The following are the key legislative dates.

                             Key State Legislative Dates Through Crossover
            Date                                   Reporting Requirement

    March 19, 2009         Last day to report all House bills not in a second committee, except budgets

    March 26, 2009         Last day to act on all House bills not in a second committee, except budgets

    April 2, 2009          Last day to report all remaining House bills

                           Last days to report list of retained bills

    April 9, 2009          Bills originated in the House of Representatives cross over to the Senate

                           Bills originated in the Senate cross over to the House of Representatives


                          Upcoming Public Hearings Week of March 16, 2009

There are no scheduled public hearings on any of the bills we are following this week.

                                     Upcoming Subcommittee Hearings

March 17, 2009 at 1:00 p.m. Room 207 Legislative Office Building - Ways and Means Committee
HB 568 – The focus of the subcommittee meeting was to determine the best way to exclude premium cigars
from taxation. Work has been done on both sides of the bill to come up with a definition of “premium cigars”
that is constitutional, is tight enough to make sure that loopholes are minimized and any definition is acceptable
to both cigar retailers and public health organizations. There is still a lot of work to be done before this bill can
go back to the full Ways and Means Committee for a vote. Breathe New Hampshire will attend this
subcommittee meeting.

March 17, 2009 at 9:30 Room 304 Legislative Office Building - Science, Technology and Energy
Committee
HB 303 – Relative to motor vehicle emissions and motor vehicle idling. This bill establishes time limits for
idling motor vehicles and makes it illegal to emit visible emissions other than water vapor or steam, except
during the initial starting of a gas powered motor vehicle. This bill is intended to increase the enforceability of
New Hampshire's existing idling regulations by converting them to law where they can be enforced as a motor
vehicle violation. HB 303 came out of the Science, Technology and Energy Committee Executive Committee
and was referred to a subcommittee to resolve opposing issues. This subcommittee will meet again on March
17th to continue the discussion on how to proceed. Breathe New Hampshire is in support of this legislation and
will attend this meeting. The Department of Environmental Services is in support of this legislation and the
feeling is that it will pass.
      9 Cedarwood Drive, Unit 12 • Bedford, NH 03110 • phone 603.669.2411 • fax 603.645-6220 • www.breathenh.org
 
                                         

March 17, 2009 at 10:15 a.m. Room 202 Legislative Office Building, Ways and Means Committee

HB 638 – Increasing the tobacco tax and dedicating a certain portion of it to the Comprehensive Cancer
Fund. This bill would raise the excise tax by another $1.00 and would give $.05 of that to permanently fund
the comprehensive cancer fund. The governor has put $.35 in his budget for the excise tax increase and
projections from the Agency that does the fiscal impact notes states that New Hampshire would stand to lose
$27,000,000 if the full $1.00 rise in the excise tax gets enacted. Tobacco Free Kids disagrees with this
projection and is in the process of doing its own projections. New Hampshire’s tax currently is $1.33 and on
April 1st the Federal Excise Tax on cigarettes will add another $.62. The subcommittee will work to determine
how this bill gets voted on and moved to the Senate. Breathe New Hampshire will attend this subcommittee
hearing.
 
                              Recap of Hearings - Week of March 9, 2009

Hearing Date: March 13, 2009 Energy, Environment and Economic Development Committee

SB 152 – relative to an investigation by the public utilities commission to determine whether the scrubber
installation at the Merrimack station is in the public interest of retail customers. The New Hampshire State
Senate heard testimony for over 8 hours on a bill that is looking to PSNH to justify the cost increases on the
scrubber installation project at the Merrimack State Power Plant, a coal plant that is producing electricity in
Bow. The issue of the scrubbers brought out a host of individuals and businesses representing both sides of the
issue. Proponents of SB 152 say the scrubber is too expensive and want PSNH to look into the possibility of
using renewable energy sources and abandoning the scrubber project. Many believe the bill is a ploy to shut
down the power plant. PSNH testified that while they recognize the need and have several initiatives that
increase their portfolio of renewable energy sources, that it is just not realistic at the present time. Opponents of
this bill including Daniel Fortin, President of Breathe New Hampshire and Manchester, Concord and Nashua
Chambers to name a few, testified that Merrimack Station represents one third New Hampshire’s energy
capacity in the state. So while Breathe New Hampshire supports clean renewable sources of energy, it will not
replace the capacity of Merrimack Station in the next 10 to 20 years. So, Breathe New Hampshire believes the
scrubber installation at the Merrimack Plant is a necessary step to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions, which is
crucial to those with respiratory issues in New Hampshire. SB152 bill has been referred to subcommittee for
further review, no date has been posted. Breathe New Hampshire will attend the subcommittee hearings.

Hearing Date: March 12, 2009 - Transportation Committee Executive Session

HB 525 Prohibiting smoking in vehicles when child restraints are required.

HB525 came up for discussion and a vote in the Transportation Committee's Executive Session. HB525 was
voted Inexpedient to Litigate by a vote of 10-8. As predicted the opposition rested on the belief that this was
not an issue where it felt it would be appropriate for the State to intervene. The vote was a lot closer than we
had anticipated. No date yet as to when it will go to the floor for the vote. Advocates for this bill feel there is a
possibility for overturning this decision. Once again, we thank you for your support and ask that you contact
your representatives and voice your concern. If you are unsure who your representatives are, you can log onto
www.gencourt.state.nh.us and look them up. Also, if you need talking points for a phone call or letter, let Marie
Mulroy know at mmulroy@breathenh.org.

    9 Cedarwood Drive, Unit 12 • Bedford, NH 03110 • phone 603.669.2411 • fax 603.645-6220 • www.breathenh.org
 
                                        
HB 81 – Prohibiting Smoking within 25 feet of playgrounds - HB 81 went to House Floor for a full vote
and was killed by a vote of 287 to 65. 




    9 Cedarwood Drive, Unit 12 • Bedford, NH 03110 • phone 603.669.2411 • fax 603.645-6220 • www.breathenh.org
 

				
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